Where Do We Go From Here?
This past November the 8th , millions of Americans went to their polling locations, some waiting for several hours, to cast their vote for our next President. Most of the prognosticators and pundits where all but certain that they knew the outcome of this election. Armed with their fancy surveys and data collection, they were collectively handed their ass. In an Electoral College landslide Donald Trump gave proof positive that the experts knew nothing, as he handily became President Elect over the hands down favorite Hillary Clinton.
In the interest of full disclosure I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I knew her flaws, but I believed that only she had the necessary political ability, intellectual depth, and knowledge of the job to be an effective President. With that said my objective with this article is not to be a sore loser and cast shade on Mr. Trump. What I want to do is bring some understanding to the exceptionally divisive and in many cases hurtful outcome of this 2016 Presidential election.
During this election we have perfected the dark art of partisanship. We had two nominees who embodied the disparate factions of our country. In the blue corner there was Hillary Clinton. She has been in politics and/or public life for around 30 years. During those years she has gained a well-earned reputation for telling half-truths and lies. Most of America thinks she is untrustworthy, and a lot of those people for their own reasons hate her. She was successfully cast as the ultimate insider who is corrupt and to whom rules and laws do not apply.
In the red corner was her opponent Donald Trump, a reality TV star and real estate developer. Mr. Trump had no political experience having been elected exactly zero times to any public office. Even before his successful TV show “The Apprentice” Mr. Trump had a knack for publicity and getting himself on TV and radio programs. He was always outspoken, and he was a Democrat. He was a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, even inviting them to his wedding. On multiple occasions he praised both Bill and Hillary for their goodness and political talent. Then something changed and Donald Trump became a Republican and thrusted himself into the center of the very contentious and hurtful birther movement.
So, after a very hard fought and nasty campaign between two candidates that are perhaps the most unpopular and mistrusted people to ever run for the Presidency here we are; Donald Trump is the President Elect. Even though he claimed countless times that the election was “rigged”, he won. He lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral College. That is the way our elections work, period.
Half the country is elated that he won, the other half is devastated. For the last several days after the election protests have broken out across the country proclaiming that Mr. Trump is “Not My President”. Many friendships have been lost. Name calling and even violence has broken out over the results of this election. Why is that?
I’m going to present some perceptions from both sides of the political spectrum.
Political pundits told us that Donald Trump’s main constituency was “white working class men”. Perhaps another way of saying “working class” would be “in the struggle”. These folks used to have good jobs with benefits. They could buy homes, support their families, and live the American Dream. Over the course of the last 20 years or so, living the American Dream became more of a fantasy than it was a possibility. Factories and other businesses that provided great jobs to hundreds of thousands of people began to close and go to other countries. As those businesses left to set up shop elsewhere, the jobs went with them, and so did the pride of these “white working class men.”
At the same time terrible political pressures and wars between drug cartels south of the border, prompted the migration of millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants to America. Coming from what must have been Hell, these immigrants were willing to do anything to support their families. So, they took whatever jobs they could find, mostly hard labor or menial jobs that most Americans simply didn’t want to do. As these immigrants began to establish themselves here, they began to take advantage of whatever benefits our “put a Band-Aid on it” country would give them. There was free medical care, food stamps, and free education for children. They got all of this without having to pay taxes.
While all this is happening, “white working class men” are watching. These men have worked their whole lives in the system as tax paying citizens of the United States. They have seen their jobs shipped overseas, their 401k’s have been depleted by a bunch of white collar crooks, and they are forced to make due with much less. They can’t send their kids to college, no more vacations, and nothing in the bank for rainy days let alone retirement.
Obamacare officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) promised to be a panacea making healthcare available to everyone at affordable prices. As it turns out the ACA is anything but affordable, and many still cannot afford to go to a doctor for an ailment. But they see the illegal immigrants who have not paid into the system, and are not citizens of the United States, get free benefits. So for these reasons “white working class men” and their “white working class women” are mad as hell.
Enter Donald Trump. This is a man who has literally sued a person for saying he wasn’t as rich as he claimed. This man lives in a gaudy gold plated penthouse in a tower in Manhattan with his name on the front. This man’s whole brand is about elitism, opulence, and wealth beyond measure. This man has admittedly given donations to politicians because “it was good for business”. If anyone is an “insider” it is Donald Trump.
However, when he announced his intention to run for the Presidency, he did something that hadn’t been done, he gave voice to the anger that “working class whites” were feeling. He said out loud the things “politically correct” and frankly polite people were afraid to say. He made illegal immigrants, Muslims, and the political elite the bogey men. He said they are the cause of the hardship Americans are experiencing.
For a people who were hurting, and mad as hell, Donald Trump seemed like a savior. He spoke the angry language they spoke. He had the swagger of a street fighter, and the money and power to rail against the system. Forget the fact that he launched his campaign in a golden building with his name on it, with his super model wife by his side. Forget that he had no political experience. Forget that he said things that would have destroyed the career of any other politician. Forget the fact that he literally bragged about how he could sexually assault women because he was a celebrity. In the minds of “white working class people” this guy was speaking for them. It didn’t matter what else he said or did, he spoke for them, in a way that no other politician had ever done.
With a black President in the oval office, it may have seemed to some folks that the concerns of people of color had been addressed. Mr. Obama expressed concerns about the killing of unarmed young black men by the police, and even the arrest of the black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. President Obama issued an executive order giving temporary legal status to around four million illegal immigrants who have children that were born here in America. All this and more was great for people of color, but the “white working class” folks felt forgotten or even neglected.
But we live in a country where white privilege is pervasive, it is as ever-present as air. Since the very founding of our country being white was an advantage, so much so that the people who benefitted from their privilege didn’t even notice it. White privilege has always been the status quo. So, when people of color started getting benefits and experiencing some measure of equality that may have felt like oppression to some who were privileged.
Thus, most “white working class” supporters of Donald Trump don’t feel privileged they feel oppressed. They work hard in many cases for the same pay or even less than they made some years back. There are no apparent opportunities for these hard working people. They are weighed down in hopelessness, and they want something or someone to blame. Donald Trump gives them someone to blame. It’s the Mexican rapists, and killers, and drug dealers who come over here and bring havoc to our country. It’s the Muslims who can’t be trusted to live peacefully in “our America”.
Donald Trump said that he alone could fix what ails this country. He is the answer to the problems that his supporters have suffered through. So, if anyone dares to criticize him, his supporters get very angry. They take negative jabs at him personally. If he is called a racist, they believe they are being called racist. The more critical fire they take on the more they dig in, the more determined they are to stand by their man Donald Trump. They feel oppressed and in their mind he alone can free them from their oppression.
First of all Hillary Clinton being a woman, had the benefit of her candidacy being historic. So, many women reveled in the possibility of helping to elect the first woman President of the United States. If Hillary Clinton were to submit a resume in her quest to be hired as our next President, that resume would show that she has far more qualifications than any other person who had ever applied for the job. In the minds of many this is a good thing, especially when compared to a man who had no relevant experience.
While it is true that Hillary has had a loose relationship with being forthright, many of her supporters could overlook that. She has been persecuted by her political enemies for most of her 30 years in the public eyes, so if she is cautious and calculated every time she answers a question, her people understand. Her people feel protective, because they see how much incoming fire she takes on a regular basis.
Hillary Clinton started off her career working to help disadvantaged blacks and children. She has been a champion of the people in many ways. So, when she threw her hat in the ring to become President she was a natural choice for the majority of people of color. After losing a hard fought nasty primary battle with Barack Obama, Hillary joined the team, and gave the full weight of her support to her former opponent. She wanted to build upon what President Obama had done, not tear it all down like Donald Trump wants to do. So, for people who support and have great affection for President Obama, Hillary was the obvious heir to his legacy.
Also Hillary wasn’t Trump. Her supporters watched in horror as Donald Trump used vulgar language, mocked a disabled reporter, disrespected a war hero and Gold Star family, said he would pay the legal bills of anyone who beat up protestors, and bragged about sexually assaulting women. While Hillary had her problems with truthfulness, and private email servers, she wasn’t Trump. She had the temperament and decorum that a President should have.
Mrs. Clinton is conversant on all the issues that a President would need to have a deep understanding of. She was by her husband Bill as he presided over a very successful presidency. She was a successful two term senator in New York, and a Secretary of State under President Obama. Supporters Of Hillary Clinton had a lot to rest that support upon.
Nearly every respected survey and so called political expert predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the election handily. In the minds of many people both Democrat and Republican the election was all but certain. Then, the actual voting on election day started. As day turned into night, people gathered around their televisions to watch the inevitable victory of Hillary Clinton. Expectation eventually turned into disbelief, when early results started coming in from the battle ground states.
Once it became fairly certain that Donald Trump was going to win Florida and North Carolina it seemed more and more clear that Clinton would be handed a stunning defeat. And that is exactly what happened. So now what?
A man who is literally an elite insider, able to use his wealth to gain access to political power has convinced the average working class man and woman that he is their champion. The people who supported Trump are jubilant. Life here in America has been rough for them due to the downturn in our economy, and now a brash, “tell it like it is” badass has been elected to be the Commander in Chief, and their outspoken representative. Finally “white working class” Americans would have someone in the country’s highest office to address their concerns, their “oppression”.
Donald Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”, which is welcome news to people who believe their country was taken away from them by Washington insiders, the crooked media, Barack Obama (who according to them really isn’t American), Mexicans, and Muslims.
At the other end of the political spectrum are the Clinton supporters. Having more than a fervent emotional connection to Hillary, they were appalled that a man like Trump could become our President. He said things that were grossly disrespectful of women. In their eyes not only was he a misogynist, but he was a bigot and racist. He tried to marginalize the first African American President by being the leading voice in the birther movement. No other President had his citizenship challenged in this way. Clinton supporters believe this was the case because he is a black man with an Arabic name. Trump even questioned his academic accomplishments. And with every challenge to the legitimacy of their beloved President, Donald Trump made them more angry.
Listening to Donald Trump speak it was always clear that he knew very little about world issues, the kind of issues that he would have to master as President. It was shocking that this political neophyte was even being considered for the highest most powerful office in the world.
America is a great country, but a lot of wrong has been done to get to where we are. America is built upon the duel horrors of the slaughter of Native Americans and theft of their land, and the institution of slavery. Leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have spoken out about the inequalities that exist in our country. Still today there is a divide between our citizens that both Democrats and Republicans have strived to close. But rather than attempting to be a healer of all people, Donald Trump breathed life into the divide between us. He made it deeper and wider.
Hillary supporters have seen Donald Trump in a most unfavorable light, and it hurts them to know that America has rewarded his behavior with the Presidency of the United States. This man who said things that would never be allowed to be spoken at the dinner table of decent people, now has the keys to the kingdom. His words will not be quickly forgotten. The pain of what he has said, the hatred he has inspired will not go away easily.
At the end of the day here we are. Donald J. Trump will become our 45th President. All indications are that he won fair and square. Roughly half of the American people believe he will do great things for our country. The people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because he spoke to their concerns in a way that Hillary Clinton did not. Donald Trump attracted those who were disappointed and disillusioned, and made them believe there is a better way to run our country, and that he is the one to turn things around.
Many Hillary supporters believe that Donald Trump is a racist because of the way he talked about Mexican immigrants, and how he said that the judge presiding over his Trump University case couldn’t be fair because he’s of Mexican descent. Many point to the fact that Donald declined invitations by premier black organizations to appear and speak at their events, and then speaking at only one black church near the end of his campaign as proof that he had no interest in or respect for black people. He spoke about us as “the blacks” which felt very patronizing at best. By association many Hillary supporters believe that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are racist. This belief is hotly contested by Trump supporters. Perhaps time will tell where the truth lies.
There have been many ugly debates about this election. Relationships have been ruined. Each side has dug in and every criticism of their respective candidate is taken personally so they fight back, sometimes viciously. Here’s the thing, we can “unfriend” a person because we were offended by something they said, but we cannot “unfriend” or “unfollow” half of America. We have to find a way to live together, if not in love then at least in peace. Let’s work together for our mutual benefit. Our future depends on it.
Donald Trump will be our President at the end of January 2017. He promised a lot of things, and it is our duty as Americans to make sure that he respects the office of the President and he leads us all to better days. Winning the Presidential election is a really big deal, but his work has only just begun. It is my most sincere hope that Democrats will work with him in a way that Republicans were unwilling to do with President Obama. We need a functioning government, and Donald Trump will be primarily responsible for whether or not we have one. God Bless Mr. Trump, and God Bless the United States of America.
Stay Fly and Fly High
I believe I was put here on this earth to teach people how to live bigger, better, and more awesome lives. I am not always right but I always have something to say…and I am here to say it. I want to change the world, and I know that I can with a little help from my friends. So, I created The MInd of KLH blog to inform and spark the imagination of anyone desiring a world full of possibilities realized.One Love...Really!
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